For many productivity enthusiasts, Evernote became the go-to note-taking app of the 2010s. It was fast, and let you create notebooks with notes, images, and even to-dos. It made it easy to share and collaborate with anyone, and had a neat tool for importing anything from the web in a single click. And it did this all mostly for free.
But in the past five years, things kept on changing for the worse. Evernote started limiting the free plans to promote their paid ones, which didn’t cost too much. But then, they kept jacking up the price. Now, in 2023, their base plan for personal use costs a whopping US$14.99 per month, or US$129.99 per year, with the professional plan coming in at US$17.99 per month. That’s more than what Microsoft charges for the entire ecosystem of Office products, including OneNote. To make matters worse, Evernote is now limiting free members to just 50 notes, and a single notebook.
People have been abandoning ship for years now, but this might be the final nail in the coffin for Evernote. But the question is, where to go from here? There is no one-to-one copy of Evernote out there in the world, but there are many great tools that offer note taking, task management, and collaboration, all in one, and many modernize the approach of Evernote.
If you want an app like Evernote, something that can handle notes, tasks, and collaboration together, OneNote might be your best bet. Microsoft has made most of its features available for free, but you’ll need a Premium account if you want to store files locally on Windows, or you want more than 5GB of storage. If you’re paying for Microsoft 365, the premium version is already included.
OneNote offers great tools for creating and organizing notes, and like Evernote, there’s a great web clipper as well. Collaboration is based on sharing notebooks, but you can collaborate with users online, on the same note, similar to Google Docs. One place OneNote lacks, though, is OCR (optical character recognition). While it’s present in some versions of OneNote, it isn’t very intuitive, so you won’t have as much ease in pulling text from images. The workflow is not as intuitive as Evernote, and searching inside PDFs and documents isn’t enabled by default. This is the one thing that Evernote does far better than OneNote. Take a look at the full OneNote review at PCMag to learn more.
Credit: Khamosh Pathak
If you loved Evernote for the collaboration, you’ll get better mileage from Taskade. Taskade integrates ChatGPT everywhere you can enter text, and it takes a collaboration-first approach. The app is centered around projects, but each project is a modular document you can keep on adding on to. And when a project is open, everyone who’s in it, and online, can be seen from the top. It doesn’t do the Google Docs thing of showing you who’s editing what with live cursors, but the version history will help figure that out.
You’ll also find basic task management features here. It has a web clipper, but there’s no OCR support. Check out the full Taskade review at PCMag for more.
Notion is a complex tool, but if you can get in the groove, the payoff is huge. Notion lets you create multiple workspaces, with documents at the core. Notion’s collaboration game is strong, and they have a giant array of templates and customization features. Tables and systems you can create in Notion are sometimes only limited by your imagination. Notion is free to use, and you can collaborate with up to five users without paying a penny.
Obsidian is not a true replacement for Evernote, but it’s a great note-taking app. It’s built on Markdown and is based on text files that are saved where you choose—locally, on a cloud storage service of your choice, or on obsidian’s servers (which costs US$96/year for 10GB storage).
Obsidian lets you create plain text notes and leaves the rest of the functionality to plugins—and there are many. They let you turn Obsidian into a task management system, a calendar app, a daily journal, and what have you. This also means that the learning curve here is massive, and it won’t work for everyone. Plus, there’s no collaboration feature here, nor is there native support for OCR (but it can be added using a plugin). The same goes for the web clipper. While there is no official tool, there is a community-created option. That’s the best way to think of Obsidian. It’s an ecosystem where you start with these simple plain text tools, but you’ll find community tools for most of the features you might want to add. This brings a level of customization and flexibility that is unheard of in the note-taking space. To learn more, check out the full Obsidian review at PCMag.
Credit: Bear Notes
While Bear is exclusively available for Apple platforms, it’s easily the best option when it comes to a simple note-taking app. Think of it as the Apple Notes app, but elevated. Bear supports Markdown, and makes it easy to import and export your notes. Plus, there’s great support for media and documents. You can organize notes using tags, which are quite powerful. If you mostly want to create and organize plain text notes, and want a fast way to search and organize them, Bear will work well for you. While the free app will only work on one device, you can enable cross-device sync, themes, document scanning, OCR, PDF search, and more by paying US$2.99 per month. Other than collaboration and web clipper, Bear offers everything that made Evernote such a great note-taking app. And, in my humble opinion, Bear is better designed and much faster to use.
Did Evernote leave a sour taste in your mouth? So much so that you can’t trust another third-party note-taking service? Joplin might help. It’s a completely free and open-source note-taking service that works on all major platforms. You can use the app for free, forever. All the data stays with you, and as Joplin uses Markdown, it’s easy to import and export the data, as well.
Feature wise, you get an app that works on all major platforms, a web clipper, a great interface, and tools to import your existing notes. But you won’t find advanced tools like OCR or document scanning.
Joplin supports multiple sync services, and you can use Joplin Cloud if you want. The US$1.99 per month subscription will get you 1GB of storage space and collaboration features, but you don’t have to use it for data syncing. You can use Dropbox or Microsoft OneDrive to sync your notes, and continue to have the same experience across all your devices. If you don’t want to trust Dropbox (and we don’t blame you), you can host Joplin on your own servers. Check out the PCMag review to know more.
The tagline for Simplenote is “The simplest way to keep notes,” which hits the nail right on the head. This is an incredibly simple, free app that works on every popular platform.
It’s owned and maintained by Automattic, the makers of WordPress. It has automatic sync, tags, revision history, and collaboration features. You can even write in Markdown. All of that is made for free, forever.
If you’re looking for a simple, text-based note-taking system, and you don’t need extra features like web clipper, image OCR, and visual organization tools, you can’t go wrong with Simplenote.
We’ll be the first to say it: Google Keep is not a full-fledged alternative to Evernote. Keep is incredibly basic, and doesn’t even offer desktop apps, or an import feature to import all your Evernote notes.
That said, it’s colorful, fun, easy to use, and it works well on smartphones. Plus, it has a pretty good web clipper, and it integrates well with other Google apps like Google Tasks, Google Assistant, and more. It’s also quite easy to share and collaborate on Google Keep lists.
It’s free to use as long as you have a Google account. Keep is a good option if you are a light notetaker, you need someplace to record and dump information, and you don’t mind searching through them (instead of meticulously organizing your notes).
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